Unbabel’s Community Spotlight — Andrea Fanfani

“It’s always a new challenge”

Born in Strasbourg, Andrea spent much of her childhood between two ways of life: “I grew up between two cultures, French and Italian, as my dad was Italian.” Her family connections to Italy, and a desire to know more about her Italian roots, prompted her decision to attend university in Italy: “I decided to do my university studies in Perugia, close to my father’s family town. I stayed there for about four years, and after graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Linguistic Mediation I wanted to travel a bit further afield and discover new cultures and lifestyles.”

This yearning for new experiences led her to Melbourne, Australia – “I lived there for about two years, a fantastic Victorian city with a touch of European life-style — I loved it!” – and then finally to settle with her partner in the more remote city of Hobart, Tazmania.

Andrea loves this spectacular natural landscape, allowing her to indulge in her hobbies of swimming and bush walking, but it also proves to be an inspiring place to work: “I work at home, at my desk in front of the window, looking outside into the bush and up to the sky. Sometimes, when it’s a beautiful sunny day, I work in the living room from the sofa in front of the glass doors and look out at the trees and water beyond.”

Although she can speak English, French, Italian and a little bit of Russian, Andrea concentrates her efforts for Unbabel on English and French. While studying linguistics at university she did consider other paths: “when I was at university I wanted to become an interpreter. I was fascinated by those people who could transfer a message from one language into another, simultaneously, just like that, in only a few minutes!”

But then I realised that I enjoyed translating more, the search for words, and going through my mind and dictionaries to find the right words, expressions, ways of saying things in another language. Transferring an idea from one language into another with different words, but trying to keep the same meaning! It’s always a new challenge!

Andrea typically listens to indie music or the chilled playlists from Spotify featuring various artists. The best translation error she has come across is connected to her love of music: “My favourite is ‘It’s live on the platform’ translated as ‘c’est vivant sur la pate-forme’. It made me laugh so much because translated this way the phrase means ‘the music is alive’, in the sense of ‘a person that is alive’, so I imagined the music like a living person dancing around me!”

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